Friday, September 24, 2010
Renzo Piano and Olmec Sculpture: A Triumphal Partnership
Above: Interior, Resnick Pavilion, Olmec Sculpture Exhibition
In his remarks at the Press Preview on September 23, 2010, Renzo
Piano defined his design of museums as both architecture and art -
an art that is sympathetic to works of art. He decried "white boxes"
as a solution to museum architecture because white boxes are not
sympathetic to viewing works of art. From Piano's perspective,
natural light enhances viewing works of art; therefore, he creates
spaces in which natural light can be managed as a corollary to the
aesthetic experience. Although he did not say this specifically, we
can assume that he does not want his architecture to either over-
whelm or distract from the appreciation of works of art.
Achieving this delicate balance is one of Renzo Piano's hallmarks;
it distinguishes his architecture from others who pursue what could
readily be described as egocentric statements in which the presen-
tation of works of art must be accommodated within the boundaries
of the personal style of the architect. Unfortunately, most of the
new museums around the world - except those designed by Renzo Piano
- represent this philosophy. Since the opening of Frank Ghery's
Guggenheim Museum in Bilboa, Spain, virtually every museum board of
directors planning a new building has attempted to find "starchitects"
(star architects - names of firms associated with grandiose projects.
not all of which are well-designed.) who could perform "Bilboa magic."
Fortunately, the decision makers at LACMA exercised wiser judgment.
The success of Renzo
Piano's philosophy is amply demonstrated in the Resnick Pavilion. Above,
it is possible to see the skylight louver system that controls the natural
light in the gallery. There are three exhibition bays: central - Olmec
sculpture - a definitive exhibition of this early Mexican culture, right:
Resnick collection - the personal collection of the benefactors for whom the
new building is named and left: fashion - selections from LACMA's vast his-
torical fashion collection. Each exhibition in its own bay. utilizes a
different level of natural light. As the sun rises and falls; as the
weather changes from day-to-day, adjustment are made with an
In addition to praise for the architect, the installation design team
deserve commendation for their sensitive presentation of the Olmec
artifacts. Although relatively few in number, each of the Olmec sculptures
absorbs the vast space of the gallery without being overwhelmed by its size.
Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Posted by Allon Schoener at 10:10 PM